Niramish is the Bengali word for mixed vegetables. There are of course, a million ways to cook niramish depending on the cook. I decided to make some last night using frozen mixed veggies because I was in a hurry. Normally, I love using a variety of fresh vegetables, especially picks from the local farmer’s markets. There are some nights though, speed is of the essence. Given the choice of eating something unhealthy or making something fast and tasty out of frozen veggies…Well it’s no contest. It ended up tasting great and it was quick!
There is nothing I like better than making and eating fresh spring rolls. They are tasty, they are healthy, they have delightful textures AND they are portable. But what I really, really, absolutely LOVE (as in a twirl my dress and spin around kind of giddiness-love) is the peanut dipping sauce. I could eat it by the bucketful. To tell you the truth, the spring rolls for me are sort of a Peanut Sauce delivery system. I have been known to eat the peanut sauce on ice cream (try it, you will love it, I promise), with apples and pears, even bananas. Sometimes, if I think nobody is watching, I will lick my plate of any residual peanut sauce (don’t judge me). It is my “green eggs and ham”
Let’s start with the recipe for the sauce:
Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 tbsp canola oil
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
½ inch piece of ginger grated
OR just one tablespoon of ginger garlic paste you’ve blended together
5 tbsp water or chicken broth—may add more as needed
5 tbsp hoisin sauce
½ cup peanut butter
1 tbsp Sirarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek
1 tbsp Palm sugar or brown sugar (Palm sugar adds a wonderful depth of flavor that is not to be missed)
Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in the hoisin sauce and water or broth and stir for a minute or two. Next add the peanut butter, Sriarcha or Sambal Oelek and Palm sugar and stir until well blended and sugar dissolves. Add additional water if needed. Sauce should be smooth but thick. Take off heat and top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai chili if desired or more Sambal Oelek.
To make this sauce Vegan or soy free:
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic
¼ inch piece of ginger grated
5 tbsp vegetable broth or stock
½ tsp salt
½ cup peanut butter
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp Sriarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek
1 Tbsp Palm Sugar
3– 4 tbsp of water
Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in all the remaining ingredients except for the water. Stir until well blended and heated through. Add the water (more or less depending on consistency). Sauce should be slightly thick and smooth. Top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai Chillis if desired.
Rice spring roll paper (12 sheets)
Warm tap water (several cups in a bowl to soften rice paper)
Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
1/3 package of thin rice vermicelli noodles, cooked
cucumbers, thinly sliced horizontally
1 Shredded carrot
1 cup bean sprouts
twelve pieces of long chives
handful of Cilantro
handful of fresh mint (peppermint variety – found in Asian markets)
Cooked shrimp, deveined and sliced in half
Or you can use Chinese style BBQ pork (Char Shu)
Or use only vegetables without any proteins
Thoroughly wash all the vegetables and prepare them as listed above. Soak the rice vermicelli noodles for 6 to 10 minutes in hot water then rinse them under cool tap water. I buy the pre cooked shrimp that’s already deveined and cleaned and then slice them in half (usually at Costco). I also buy all my produce at the Asian Market because they are a LOT cheaper.
There are a million brands of rice paper. Choose the cheapest one. They are pretty much the same.
Dip the paper in warm water, turning it in a circle as you dip and gently press in the middle to get the whole paper wet. Avoid sticking the whole paper in a bowl and letting it float around. It just needs to get wet – not soaking wet. Gently shake off excess water and place the sheet on a cutting board or plate in front of you. On the top third of the paper closest to you, place a small bundle of romaine lettuce and cabbage, next put the vermicelli noodles on top followed by the carrots, sprouts, cucumber, a few leaves of mint, one frond of chives and two small leaves of cilantro. Fold the paper closest to you over the vegetables and tuck tightly under. Once you’ve rolled one revolution, tuck the left and right side into the roll. There should be some paper still left in the front, place the shrimp cut side facing up (like inverted “u”) next to the roll and finish rolling up the spring roll. You should be able to see the Shrimp from the outside . Serve with peanut dipping sauce. Serve at room temperature. Avoid making ahead and refrigerating since the rice paper dries out or gets too soggy. If you must take it somewhere to eat/serve it, wrap each roll in plastic wrap so they do not stick to each other and serve within 2-3 hours.
Hummus has been around for a long, long time. It was the ultimate “fast” food that was easy to carry. When Bedouin tribes traveled with their herds from place to place, carrying dried grains that were ground up was a lightweight and economical option. It also was a great source of protein. I am so glad that it has become one of the “in” foods. High in protein, good quality monounsaturated fats and delightful flavor…what’s not to like? Here’s a fast, easy and very budget friendly version.
What makes it especially economical is the use of whole sesame seeds instead of Tahini in a jar. Tahini is a paste made of sesame seeds that adds tremendous flavor to this dish and It’s rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron, not to mention essential amino acid Methionine, which aids in liver detoxification. It is also high in Vitamin E and a host of B vitamins and calcium. It’s the ultimate brain food.
So let’s get to the recipe.
2 cans (15 oz) of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
juice of half a large lemon
2 cloves of fresh garlic, roughly chopped
kosher salt to taste
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
In a food processor, dump in the garbanzo beans and pulse a few times. Add the sesame seeds (you pulse the garbanzo beans first so the sesame seeds don’t fall to the bottom of the processor) and garlic and pulse 3 or 4 times. Add in lemon juice and turn on the food processor. As the processor is doing its work, begin to drizzle in the olive oil through the lid opening until the mixture begins to get nice and smooth. Add salt to taste and pulse a few times. Pour into a bowl and drizzle a bit more good quality olive oil. Serve with Pita bread, vegetable strips or Pita chips and enjoy. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Serving size 1/2 cup. Cost per serving 48 cents.
There’s nothing like a refreshing and hearty dip on a hot summer day. I’m always looking for fun new ways of making salsas and dips that are not heavy and creamy. The Caribbean side of my family love eating Pigeon Peas. In fact it’s a staple of most Caribbean rice dishes. Pigeon peas are hard to find fresh here and I have to go to specialty stores to get the canned version. The closest cousin I have found to the Pigeon Pea is the Blackeyed Pea. I love the texture and mild flavor of Blackeyed Peas. The skin is not thick and it has an almost creamy mouth feel. Perfect for a salsa. I used canned Blackeyed Peas and canned Corn in this salsa. You can definitely use roasted fresh corn and pressure cook some Blackeyed peas. Since this was one of many items I was cooking yesterday, I decided to just go with the canned. It turned out great and saved me some time. With the fresh ingredients, you don’t really notice that the peas and corn are canned. The heat from the chilies are nicely balanced with the sweetness of the Mangoes. Paired with fresh home-made BIG tortilla chips as a scoop, this salsa is “da bomb”!
Blackeyed Pea and Corn Salsa
2 cans (14 oz) of Blackeyed Peas (rinsed and drained)
1 can (14 oz) sweet corn (rinsed and drained)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1-2 Thai chilis, take the seeds out if you want it less spicy
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, minced
15 or so green spanish olives, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 mangoes, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
zest and juice of one lime
1/2 cup pomegranate vinegar
fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp sugar or honey
In a large bowl place the washed and rinsed canned Blackeyed peas and corn. Add all fresh chopped ingredients and toss lightly. Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the dip and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour before serving. Great with large home made tortilla chips.
Homemade Tortilla Chips
12 inch uncooked (or cooked) flour tortilla chips
Oil for frying
Cut the tortillas into fourths and fry in oil until golden brown, drain over paper towels. Can be made a day ahead and stored in airtight container or zip lock bags before serving.
I made some garlic mashed potatoes to go with some meatloaf a couple of days ago. The meatloaf is all gone but I had about 2 cups of garlic mashed potatoes left over. I hate throwing food away so I decided to ‘re-purpose” the potatoes. I have made potato bread before but not usually with garlic mashed potatoes. I decided to fully commit and throw in a few dried herbs and see how the potato bread turned out. I was delighted. The bread was tender, yeasty, and the garlic along with the basil, thyme and dried onion gave it a wonderful flavor. It was great for sandwiches, just toasted with a little fresh butter, tremendous as a grilled cheese sandwich, in a savory bread pudding and I even made some croutons out of a few pieces. I think I have to make this bread again…really soon!
Garlic Herb Potato Bread
1 cup garlic mashed potatoes
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup warm milk
5 cups or a little more bread flour
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
Heat milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm. Stir in sugar and yeast into the milk and let it sit for a little bit until it’s foamy. In a large bowl mix together garlic mashed potatoes, dried onion, herbs, salt, eggs and butter mix well. Add the yeast mixture to the potato mixture and add in 4-5 cups flour until a dough forms. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. Put dough in a greased bowl. Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased. Cover and let rise for about 1-2 hours or until doubled in size. Punch down dough and shape into two loaves. Place loaves into two greased loaf pans and cover let it rise for another 40 minutes or until doubled in size again. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when top is tapped lightly. Remove from pans and let it cool on cooling rack before slicing. This bread freezes really well.
I am the Thrift Store Queen. I love the stuff you can find, from clothes, to shoes, cookware, furniture and the variety of strange and amazing things. Another man’s trash really can be your treasure. Part of the reason for my fascination with Thrift Stores is to show others that you can dress stylishly, find amazing deals and feel no shame in the fact that you’re using previously owned things. I work with newly arrived refugees. Most families when they arrive have very little in terms of material possessions. Not only does an entire apartment have to be furnished but often clothes (especially here in Salt Lake we need clothes for four DISTINCT seasons) are desperately needed. Thrift Stores are a must when buying entire wardrobes for a family all at once and picking up kitchen tools and small furniture items. I like looking at my clients in the eyes and telling them that everything they see me wearing is from the Thrift Store and that we need to begin a new adventure by having a shopping fashion show. Over the years we’ve had a lot of fun. A few weeks ago, while taking a family of four from Burma through the Thrift Store, I came upon two cast iron skillets. They were $4 each. I was almost hyperventilating with joy. I bought both. One for the Burmese family and one for me.
The Burmese family love their new skillet. I love mine as well. I’ve already cooked with it on the grill outside, used it to press down on paneer as a heavy weight and made a pineapple upside down cake in it. It’s time to make rolls. This was my first attempt at making rolls in the cast iron skillet. I loved how evenly they cooked and how long they stayed warm. The roll recipe is QUICK. There is extra yeast added to make it rise in 20 minutes so while you’re getting other things ready for dinner, you can put these rolls together. They were just the right texture, warm, buttery and delicious. The batch makes two dozen rolls, so I ended up with a dozen rolls in the cast iron skillet and pan full of garlic breadsticks. Not a bad deal at all!!
Quick Rise Rolls
1 3/4 cups warm water
3 packets active dry yeast (2 tbsp plus 1 tsp)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup melted butter and a little extra for brushing
2 tsp salt
Kosher salt for sprinkling on top
2 large eggs, beaten
4-6 cups flour (more if needed due to humidity)
Pre-heat oven to 400° F. If using a stand mixer, attach the paddle attachment and in the mixing bowl, mix together water, yeast and honey and let it sit for about 5 minutes until foamy. Mix on low speed and slowly add in the melted butter and eggs. Add in 3 cups of flour and continue to mix on low for a minute or so. Add in salt and flour as needed until a soft dough is formed and it begins to form a ball. Divide dough in half. Portion half of the dough into 12 balls and roll smoothly. Place in a cast iron skillet and cover with a dish cloth or plastic wrap. Shape the remaining dough into rolls or bread sticks (can also be used as a pizza dough) if desired. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. They should double in size during that time. Brush with melted butter and place the skillet in the pan. Bake for 25 minutes until tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with more melted butter and sprinkle each roll with a small amount of kosher salt. Serve warm with butter, jam or any other topping!
We eat a lot of chickpeas in South Asia. In cooked food, in fried fritters, in sauces and especially salads. I wanted a quick and easy salad with a little crunch and some protein in it so it could double as a filling lunch and not merely a side dish. I loved how this salad came together. Perfect for a summer Saturday after a killer workout!
Chickpea, Radish, Cucumber and Pepper salad with herb vinaigrette
1 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup of sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3 tbsp pomegranate vinegar
1 tbsp honey
lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
2 tbsp flat leafed parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh cracked pepper
salt to taste
Whisk together all the ingredients of the vinaigrette until an emulsion forms. Toss together all the salad ingredients and pour dressing over the vegetables. Let it sit for a few minutes before eating!
I kind of have a soft spot for Granola. You see, I had just stuffed my mouth full of some yogurt and granola in the university dining room. I had misjudged how much my mouth could handle and the extreme chewiness of the granola so I was trying desperately to gnaw my way through like a chipmunk….when I saw HIM. He had hazel eyes and long eye lashes and was wearing a dark green sweater. It’s funny the memories that come up with certain smells, sounds or foods. As I was getting all the ingredients together for this granola for Onjoli and I to have with our yogurt or just as a cereal, I was grinning to myself and thinking about that first “meeting”. The best part of that encounter was what happened a few minutes later. I finally gulped down the granola and decided that I should make myself memorable. Earlier that week I had learned the English word “saunter” (I was trying to improve my English by learning and using new words everyday). I understood “saunter” to be sort of like a supermodel walk down the catwalk. Not accurate, but hey, I was 17 years old. In my head I planned to “saunter” past this hunk of manhood in my female glory so he’d be amazed and wonder “who was that gorgeous woman?” I was so busy “sauntering” that I ran into one of the closed doors of the cafeteria. I mean a serious face plant on the door.
The plan did work, he did notice me, just not exactly in the way I was planning. Something must have worked, because that was 28 years ago. Next week we will celebrate 26 years of marriage!
I was inspired by the awesome Chef Connie and her recipe for granola (she has a great blog!). The granola turned out fantastic and I know that each time I take a bite, I’ll smile just a bit. Do you have food that brings back a flood of memories? I’d love to hear it!
5 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecans, rough chopped
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup raw peanuts, rough chopped
1 cup sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of any type of dried fruit you like—I used dates, apricots and dried cherries
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sea or kosher salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp oil
Mix all the nuts, oats and seeds together (reserve the dried fruit for later) in a large pan or big bowl. Add the spices, brown sugar and salt. In a saucepan mix the applesauce, honey, maple syrup and oil and heat all the way through. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread the mixture evenly on a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet in a pre-heated 350° oven. Cook for 40-45 minutes but make sure and stir it every 10 minutes to brown it evenly. Remove from oven and add in the dried fruits and mix well. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Back in March when I started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing. I still don’t. But one of the fun things about blogging has been reading other blogs whether food related or not. I’ve learned new things, added new foods to my repertoire and improved my culinary skills. Who knew it would turn out to be so much fun? One of the blogs I fell in love with has been Tasha’s Foodashion’s blog. I saw her post on artichokes and the gorgeous pictures and I was hooked. I finally made a variation of her original recipe and I gotta tell you it was delicious. Mine was not nearly as visually stunning as Tasha’s but we ate them up in record time!
Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes
4 Fresh Artichokes
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup Camembert cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped flat leafed parsley
2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 onion, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
4-5 kalamata olives, finely chopped
Wash and trim the artichokes with kitchen shears. Smash them down a little on your counter or cutting board (leafy side down) so they open up a bit like a flower and place them in a pan with water and lemon juice, (save the zest of the lemon in a separate bowl)and cook covered for about 25-30 minutes until tender. Meanwhile assemble the stuffing. Heat olive oil and saute the onion and the garlic together, add in kalamata olives and take off the heat. Mix the cheeses with lemon zest, parsley and add to the onion mixture in a small bowl. When artichokes are cool enough to handle take out the middle part and clean out the “choke” with a spoon. Divide the stuffing between all four artichokes making sure to stuff between leaves as well. Bake at 425° for about 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly and dive into the gooey goodness!
This is a hearty and creamy main dish kind of daal. Almost like a chili. It is made with black lentils or Urad daal. I used the split Urad daal which cooks a tad bit faster than the whole urad daal. Most people who make this dish use a pressure cooker. I don’t happen to own a pressure cooker because they scare me. When I was about 12 years old we lived in Yemen. My mom, unused to the altitude of San’aa (capital of Yemen) would often use a pressure cooker to make most of our meals to save time. She did not understand the mechanics of the release valve and one day when the pressure cooker release valve broke, being a thrifty housewife, she decided to make a make-shift one out of flour and water paste. This created a miniature steam fueled bomb in the kitchen. I was just coming home from school when the giant explosion sent me running into the kitchen area. I found my mom among the carnage of raw goat meat, broken windows and dishes. She looked at me with dazed eyes and said, “did we get bombed?” She only suffered minor injuries but I have been scared of pressure cookers and certain types of goats ever since. Even the sound is ominous like a large snake getting ready to strike….
Save yourself and make this daal in a plain old pan, just keep an eye on it and check the water level to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
The nutrient contents of the black lentils and kidney beans are tremendous. Both are high in protein and the flavors can’t be beat. It is fantastic served with fresh, hot chappatis. There is nothing quite like the combination. You won’t miss the meat or the pressure cooker, I promise.
1 cup split black lentils (urad daal)
1/4 cup kidney beans, dry
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Amchur – dry mango powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 whole dried red chilies
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 cup half and half
2 tbsp ghee – clarified butter
1/2 tsp garam masala
5-6 cups water
Wash the kidney beans and daal. Soak in about 5-6 cups of water overnight. Soaked daal will almost triple in volume. In a large heavy bottomed pan add Urad daal, kidney beans, onions, salt, turmeric and ginger. Add about 5 cups of water bring to boil. After mixture has come to a boil, turn heat to low and cover. Simmer for 30-40 minutes on a back burner, checking occasionally for water level and to stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. When the daal and the beans are soft and tender, lightly mash it with a potato masher, you don’t want to use an immersion blender since the texture doesn’t need to be a puree, just slightly mashed. Add a little more water if needed and cook an additional 5-6 minutes. Add garam masala, dry mango powder and half and half and cook another 10 minutes on low heat. Take daal off the heat and in a separate, small pan heat the ghee. When ghee is nicely heated, add the dry red chilies, cumin seeds and red chili powder. Stir quickly and pour the hot, aromatic ghee over the daal. Stir to incorporate and serve with hot chappatis.